Rethink this toll crossing misery’

PUBLISHED: 11:30 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 17:05 25 August 2010

DELAYS at an unpopular toll crossing have remained the same despite crossings being at a ten-year low.

DELAYS at an unpopular toll crossing have remained the same despite crossings being at a ten-year low.

The number of vehicles using the Dartford Crossing has fallen by 1.5 million in the past year, but commuters still face the miserable task of being stuck in a long and slow-moving queue of cars.

Now Old Bexley and Sidcup Conservative parliamentary hopeful James Brokenshire has written to the Transport Minister Lord Adonis demanding for better use of the bridge and the tunnels.

He also called for an examination of the impact on traffic flows during the recent power cut in Dartford, which led to motorists not being charged for several hours. It is another boost for our 'Stop the Toll' campaign which has been supported by more than a thousand readers.

Mr Brokenshire said: "Nearly half of all motorists experience hold ups at the Crossing and it has one of the highest levels of delays on the national road network. The Government argues that the tolls at the Crossing are intended to control congestion yet by their own admission, they are the cause.

"Vehicle movements have been falling for several years and it is perverse that delays seem to be getting worse than better. We need a complete rethink as the current situation simply isn't acceptable or sustainable."

A report published by the Highways Agency also found that the current toll plaza layout was the "primary constraint to vehicles using the crossing" with 150,000 vehicles using it a day.

It read: "The efficient operation of the Dartford Crossing is an essential element that maintains the economic prosperity of the UK.

"Given existing congestion levels and the report's conclusion that the Crossing is already operating at its effective capacity for much of the day, ongoing development growth will contribute to increased demand which cannot be accommodated at the Crossing.

"This, in turn could lead to further shortfalls in the delivery of growth targets in the Thames Gateway."

The report's authors Parsons Brinckerhoff said HGVs using the Crossing will also increase substantially in future years.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "More vehicles want to use the Crossing than it can accommodate. Studies indicate that without any charge traffic levels would be even higher leading to even more extensive congestion and seriously worsening pollution on the Crossing.

Earlier this year a study by the Department of Transport identified three options for a new crossing in the long-term and one-way tolling in the short-term.

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